WPCNR Press Box. April 7, 2014: They’re getting ready at the new Big Ball Park.
Today the Bronx Bombers return to Yankee Stadium. In the honor of Opening Day, WPCNR brings back this original celebration I wrote about why Opening Day is the best day of the year
OPENING DAY is better than Christmas Day,
When you look out the window and you know they’ll play,
Whether dreary gray or billiant spring sun’s ray
Opening Day means the Big Show is back today.
In decades past, Opening Day was for fanatics starved,
Eager for the sharp crack of ash on horsehide carved;
The flutter of pennants snapping in northwest winds
Atop ramparts of inviting arches of walls, and sculpted friezes wistfully escarped.
Fans lucky to get away with ducats
Marvel at grown men in boys’ flannels and sharp whites pristeen,
Back to play in April’s warm zephers in NY blazened caps,
Dashing specks of white warming up on the sprawl of the greenest green.
Motor cars panting in good-natured traffic jams on the Deegan,
Down Yawkey Way, on 35th and Shields or Waveland’s jam.
Through car windows you see the first glimpse of the storied Park,
The place where ball is played, where ghosts of Ted, Babe, Duke
Mel, Spahnie, Whitey, Mickey, Willie, Yaz, Minnie and Sandy lark.
Paying a White Plains fine to park, passing stogie smoking old men
at the same gates for a hundred years,
Now out into the street
You go, aroma of roasting chestnuts, pungent cigars sweet,
Cries of “scorecard heah” “programs,heah” shout out, neath light towers to heaven.
Fans in cap and uniform, little boys and girls gawk in awe hoping to make the Anthem
Never seeing such sheer walls, topped with the legend “GameToday 1:30 PM.”
Clutching slim cardboard tix to Section 14 Upper Deck up to the turnstiles
Festooned with souvenirs more dear as diamonds, beyond, the lure of endless aisles.
Into the press of crowd, the grizzled usher, RIPS YOUR TICKET.
Turnstile turns, clicks, and into the cathedral of ball you go
Into the rotunda greeted with magic signs dazzling the senses –
UPPER LEVELS SECTIONS 1 to 39, 2 to 40
Hawkers shout –Voices of Flatbush — colorful books in hand
“Yearbook heah,” “Dodger Yearbook here,” “Hot dog, heah,”
Assail your ears up ramps you walk to the sign “NEXT HOMESTAND”
Walking the catwalk,sliver of blue is first look of the magic sphere
Into the sunlight splaying the vast rake of the mighty grand stand.
Spread out below are knights of the diamond in white hues
Cavorting, snapping throws across immaculate red clay
As majestic fungo bats CRACK! sending spheres soaring towards filling bleachers a mile away,
Bunting flutters from the deck’s rails red, white and true blues.
Old glory unfurls on the highest pole in center field
Colorful signs deliver the manly flavor of the only real game,
GILLETTE To Look Sharp, The Red Sox use Lifeboy, Schaefer It’s A Hit
Hey, Neighbor Have a Gansett, White Owl Cigars, Hit Sign Win Suit
From old familiar walls, to Gladys Gooding on the organ
Friendly old green scoreboard displaying
Today’s games around the big leagues BETTER THAN CNN
CHI CLE BOS DET, CHI STL, NY WAS make you king for a day.
Two Bits for a scorecard, usher wipes your seat, ballpark fills your heart.
Penciling lineup 422B, 1 SS, 14 1B, 4 CF, 39 C, 6 RF, 23 LF 19 3B 36 P
Smell of beer, peanuts and pretzels.
Nippy air, warm rays sink into your face feels nice,
Starters wheel,deal, kicking high on sidelines fueling expectancy
Men in blue, arms folded solemnly conduct the home plate regimen
Casey, Ralph , Walter, Joe and Sparky exchange lineup cards and knowing
Ground rules by heart, go over them for ritual’s sake.
Announcer entones “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to Yankee Stadium.”
“Please rise for the playing of our national anthem,”
Nancy Faust at organ note by note peels baseball’s theme song
Rising on the breeze, uniting do-rag and ball cap,
Fedora, ponytail and bouffant in the spirit of the great game.
Grass is never greener on opening days
Strikes are louder, the long drives electrify in alleys
Beers with THICK hig creamy heads, taste crisp cold mellow best brew all year
Smashes laser through short and in the gap in raucous rallies
Magicians without wands start 6-4-3s,
Backhand sure hits losing their caps
“Oh what a play’s” crackle on WGN with “CUBS WIN!”‘S
Jack and Mel, Vince, Red, Curt and Murph are back at the mikes to turn mundane days Into joy with a ninth inning elixir and “happy recaps”
Thunderous ROAR accolades the 2-out winner again creating big kids’ grins.